On 7 August 2023, Czech aircraft manufacturer AERO Vodochodypresented the inaugural Vietnam People’s Air Force (Không quân Nhân dân Viet Nam) L-39NG aircraft in its striking full livery. This milestone marks a significant step in Vietnam’s endeavor to modernize its aviation training capabilities. The L-39NG, designated with serial number 2303, is now poised to embark on its journey to its new home. Notably, on 24 April 2023, AERO Vodochody celebrated a triumphant feat as the first series-produced L-39NG, temporarily designated as serial number 0517 (c/n 167005), took to the skies for a successful 40-minute flight. This flight rigorously tested and verified the aircraft’s functions and behaviors across various flight phases. While it remains uncertain whether this specific aircraft corresponds to the showcased L-39NG intended for the Vietnam People’s Air Force, the accomplishment underscores AERO Vodochody’s commitment to delivering advanced aviation solutions.
The genesis of this remarkable development traces back to February 2021 when the Ministry of Defence of Vietnam sealed a transformative contract with AERO Vodochody for the acquisition of 12 L-39NG jet trainers. Beyond the aircraft delivery, the contract encompasses comprehensive training programs for pilots, instructors, ground crew, and mechanics. AERO Vodochody also undertakes the vital task of furnishing aircraft spare parts and supplying essential ground-based training equipment, logistical support, and specialized airport systems. Scheduled for delivery from July 2023 through 2024, the batch of new-build L-39NGs marks a pivotal addition to Vietnam’s People Air Force. This procurement aligns with Vietnam’s strategy to modernize its training fleet, leveraging the new L-39NG alongside its existing Russian-made aircraft. The forthcoming L-39NGs will find their place of honor within Regiment 910 of the Air Force Officer’s College, Air Defense – Air Force Service of the Vietnam People’s Army.
Visually reminiscent of the Aero L-39C Albatros’ training aircraft, the L-39NG’s fresh paint scheme pays homage to its predecessor’s heritage. This visual similarity also establishes a sense of continuity and familiarity for the personnel tasked with operating these new aircraft. The 910th Aviation Training Regiment of the Air Force Officer School at Dong Tac Airport has long operated the L-39C Albatros, solidifying its reputation as one of the most prolific communist jet trainers. These aircraft are set to play a crucial role in partially replacing the aging L-39C fleet. AERO Vodochody’s unveiling of the first L-39NG for the Vietnam People’s Air Force heralds a new era of training and capability enhancement.
The Aero L-39NG, aptly named the “Next Generation,” represents a quantum leap in military training and light combat aircraft. Developed and manufactured by AERO Vodochody, this aircraft succeeds the Cold War-era Aero L-39 Albatros. The L-39NG program unfolds in two stages: Stage 1 involves upgrading existing L-39 Albatros with the FJ44-4M turbofan engine and optionally adopting Stage 2 avionics. Stage 2, on the other hand, envisions the construction of entirely new L-39NG aircraft, potentially integrating components from the Stage 1 upgrade when the original airframe reaches the end of its lifecycle. This revamped airframe boasts reduced weight and drag, offering comparable operating costs to contemporary turboprops. The aircraft’s construction incorporates modern composite materials, representing a technological leap.